Ireland’s abortion numbers remain high despite promise that it would be ‘rare’

Ireland, birth rate

Although a new report shows a slight decrease in the number of abortions committed in Ireland last year compared to 2019, pro-life groups were quick to note that these numbers are still high, and a far cry from the government’s promise that abortions, once legalized, would be “rare.”   

Abortion became legal in Ireland on January 1, 2019, with the introduction of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018. According to the second Notifications Annual Report 2020, 6,577 abortions took place last year, a slight decrease from the 6,666 abortions performed in 2019. However, although the number of abortions declined, they represent a 70% increase from 2018 — when abortion was still illegal in Ireland.

Commenting on the report, Eilis Mulroy of the Pro-life Campaign, a pro-life advocacy group in Ireland, called the figures a “damning indictment of Government policy that overlooks positive alternatives to abortion,” adding, “[O]ne thing is clear – today’s abortion figures are devastating and are the opposite of what members of the Government repeatedly promised when they said abortions would be ‘rare’ if people voted for repeal.”

According to the report, the vast majority of abortions in 2020 were carried out before 12 weeks. Twenty of the 6,577 abortions were committed because of a perceived risk to the life or health of the mother, five were carried out due to an emergency situation, and 97 were committed because of a poor prenatal diagnosis labeled as fatal for the baby. 

As Live Action News has reported, abortion is never medically necessary. If a pregnancy needs to end because of a health risk or emergency, a preterm delivery is safer for women than abortion. Moreover, sometimes medical treatments to save a mother’s life secondarily and unintentionally cause the death of the baby, but these treatments are not abortions.



The Abortion Rights Campaign said that the number of abortions during the pandemic proved that abortion is “essential” and that telemedicine abortion should remain in effect after the pandemic ends, despite the risks to women that have led to tragedy in places like the UK. However, the group also thought the number of abortions was actually higher than what was reported.

“What is not captured in this report is how many people were refused abortion in Ireland, how many had to travel long distances within Ireland or beyond, and how much distress was caused by the unnecessary barriers within the current abortion law,” the Abortion Rights Campaign said.

With pro-abortion groups pushing to make the country’s abortion laws even more permissive, those abortion numbers could continue to rise. The National Women’s Council in Ireland is pushing to legalize abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy, despite the fact that babies born as young as 21 weeks can survive outside the womb with proper medical assistance. Currently, the law allows abortion up to 12 weeks, but abortion is also allowed beyond 12 weeks if a child is diagnosed with a condition that will lead to death within 28 days of birth — something doctors can’t always accurately predict. One couple in Ireland recently received damages from a court after the medical team advised them to abort their son because of a Trisomy 18 diagnosis, only to learn from an autopsy that he did not have the condition.   

READ: Healthy preborn baby aborted in Ireland after doctors’ misdiagnosis

Still, Mulroy believes there is hope. She notes that the country’s leaders are starting to ask hard questions about the real implications of legalized abortion and the rising number of abortions.

“As more comes to light about how the new law is operating the demand for answers will grow and changes will start to happen,” Mulroy stated. “The fast-track way abortions are taking place without a single mention of positive alternatives is undoubtedly contributing to massive increases evidenced in today’s figures.”

She continued, “As an immediate first step, space must be found at the decision-making table for people who offer alternative perspectives and have experience in the area of providing positive alternatives to abortion. These voices can no longer be shut out. We cannot have a situation a year from now where nothing has changed and the abortion rate continues to spiral upwards.”

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